Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Glass plate with head of Medusa

Late Imperial
3rd century A.D.
Glass; cast and cut
H. 1/2 in. (1.3 cm) diameter 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1881
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 169
Translucent pale blue green.
Rounded, upturned, and outsplayed rim, curving in below to flat body; integral low base ring with rounded edge.
On underside of body, circular pattern of thirty-five outward-pointing incised tongues, outlined with incised lines, within a raised border around base ring; with base ring, an incised circle surrounds an engraved head of Medusa with flowing locks and wings, facing frontally but looking slightly to the left.
Intact, except for large chip in base ring; tiny pinprick bubbles; dulling, patches of pitting with brown weathering on upper surface of body, iridescence and faint whitish weathering on underside.
This small glass plate was published in 1997 as a 19th-century forgery, but a more recent study has concluded that both the object and the cut decoration are Roman.

Although this vessel is said to have come from Rome, its closest parallels are known from sites such as Trier and Xanten in the Rhineland. In later Roman times, some cast glass was produced in preference to blown glass, as with this example, allowing for a thicker vessel wall and deeper cutting of the decoration.
Said to have been found in Rome (Froehner 1879, p. 70)

Before 1879, found in Rome; by 1879 and until 1881, collection of Jules Charvet, Le Pecq, Île-de-France; 1881, purchased from J. Charvet by Henry G. Marquand; acquired in 1881, gift of Henry G. Marquand.
Froehner, Wilhelm. 1879. La verrerie antique: déscription de la Collection Charvet. pp. 69-70, Le Pecq: Jules Charvet.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1881. Twelfth Annual Report of the Trustees of the Association for eight months ending December 31, 1881. pp. 215-16, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kisa, Anton. 1908. Das Glas im Altertume, Vol. 2. p. 666, fig. 254, Leipzig: K. W. Hiersemann.

Fremersdorf, Fritz. 1951. Figürlich geschliffene Gläser: eine Kölner Werkstatt des 3. Jahrhunderts, Römisch-germanische Forschungen, Vol. 19. p. 11, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Caron, Beaudoin. 1997. "Roman Figure-Engraved Glass in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 32: no. 13, pp. 19, 45, figs. 66-67.

Pilosi, Lisa and Mark T. Wypyski. 2002. "Two Roman Engraved Glasses in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Journal of Glass Studies, 44: pp. 25-34, figs. 1, 3-4.

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